Syl Johnson – 1968 – Dresses Too Short
The funkiest album that Syl Johnson ever recorded – filled with short, tight cuts that play more like a stack of funky 45s than the standard soul album of the time! The record draws from the great run of singles that Syl cut for Twinight Records at the end of the 60s – some of the hardest soul coming out of Chicago at the time, with a gritty feel that’s right up there with some of James Brown’s best late 60s work – or even better, some of the other obscure acts working in the American underground at the time. A few tunes are familiar from their popularity as classic 45s – but the album’s got lots more wonderful numbers that are lesser-known – and all of them are great! (Dusty Groove).
A1 Dresses Too Short 2:44
A2 I Can Take Care of Business 3:00
A3 Different Strokes 2:20
A4 Soul Drippin’ 2:24
A5 Fox Hunting on the Weekend 2:32
A6 Ode to Soul Man 2:30
B1 Come on Sock It to Me 2:26
B2 I’ll Take Those Skinny Legs 1:57
B3 Try Me 2:02
B4 Same Kind of Thing 2:21
B5 I’ve Got the Real Thing 2:40
B6 Sorry ‘Bout Dat! 2:14
Review by Soulmakossa
A little gem in the Southern Soul canon is Syl Johnson’s first Twinight album, released in 1968.
More a collection of A- and B-sides, there nonetheless isn’t a trace of filler here. A coherent, hard socking album which solely intended people to get on up and ‘do their thing’.
“Dresses Too Short” is an incredible hard vamp of horn heavy Southern Soul, with Syl laying one of his blues-drenched vocals over a rock hard, funky beat. Somewhat reminiscent of Wilson Pickett’s “She’s Looking Good“, but man does it swing…
The second track, “I Can Take Care of Business“, actually is the only ballad here, and even this one rides a solid, rough groove. The horns here are fantastic, especially when Syl segues into the remarkable chorus.
“Different Strokes” gets things right back in the pocket; a frantic beater featuring Staxy horns (Otis Redding and Carla Thomas’ “Tramp” comes to mind) and a truly awesome vocal/musical finale; “Soul Drippin‘” is just as relentless, with some very appealing female backing vocals adding to the chorus.
The flip kicks off with Syl’s biggest hit up to that date, the gruffy “Come on Sock It to Me“, with its highly syncopated chorus structure, sudden outbursts of horn and dark, heavy guitar. It ends with Syl letting out one of those fabulous Jackie Wilson-esque, high-pitched wails.
“I’ll Take Those Skinny Legs” obviously is a pun on Joe Tex’s crossover smash “Skinny Legs and All” – and just as funky – whereas “Try Me” (most definitely not the James Brown classic ballad) lazily plods along a understated groove, accentuated by the thick, meaty bass and the eclectic workout on organ.
“Same Kind of Thing” is my favorite cut here; the chorus is so irresistibly funky and melodic at the same time, while the heavy brass is as greasy and in-your-face as everywhere else on this disc. Rock hard drumming here, as well.
The raw “I Got the Real Thing” is a little bluesier, but still firmly rooted in the groove, while the album’s last track, the hilarious “Sorry ‘Bout Dat!‘ is a great, scorching tune featuring some nice, intricate guitar noodlings.
A great slab of hardcore, sweat-inducing, boogaloopin’ Southern Soul.
Enjoy his masterpiece ” Is It Becasuse I’m Black” in our back pages here.